"Crafts" are food for the soul.
"Crafts" can teach many many basics . . . fine motor skills wasn't even a blip on my radar when I read the OP. They teach math (addition, subtraction, ratios, etc) in a non-"teachy" way. They teach chemistry (what happens when you add baking soda to vinegar?). They teach biology (what happens when you add yeast to flour and sugar?).
"Crafts" can be very affirming in the sense of accomplishement that one feels when complete.
"Crafts" allow for expression of emotions in a non-verbal way (when dd1 is upset, she draws. When dd1 is happy, she draws. When dd1 can't sleep, she draws.)
"Crafts" produce essentials for daily life as well as those things we keep because they make us happy.
"Crafting" is another form of play.
"Crafts" cannot be narrowly defined - drawing, gluing and such are things you see in a playschool, but there's also creating things to wear (sewing, crocheting, knitting, etc), creating things that are beautiful to look at and evoke emotion (painting, coloring, drawing, embroidery and other needlework), creating furniture and houses, even creating the food we eat, and the list goes on - in a nutshell, "crafting" is the process of creation.
Everything you look at, sit on, dwell in or eat that is not a direct process of nature is a "craft"
fwiw, I do think that one needs to reach a certain level of consciousness before the ability to create can occur - and I think that often at 2.5, kids are still not fully aware of the concept of "self" - I know my dd wasn't.
I just don't think craft can be so narrowly defined.
As far as the types of crafts that are expected with many preschoolers - I think part of the problem there is they often don't allow for any inner creative processes or expression. But they can be a gateway to others.